Where do you start?
You know you want more flexibility or part-time hours, but how do you make this transition happen?
Start with your why. Take the time to understand why you want a change instead of jumping to the solution. Your original solution might not be what you actually need to solve your challenge(s).
This why can help guide you in your decision-making and creating the right solution at work and at home. You will also know what to negotiate with a manager or senior leadership. You can start to think about what it looks like and who you need to help support you (e.g., a significant other or a particular team mate, etc.).
Think about it another way. If you decide that a part-time role is what you want without doing the inner work and then realize you really wanted a full-time work-from-home scenario, it’s hard to renegotiate with your manager or senior leadership. While you can make adjustments, it’s hard to completely shift gears in what your flexible role looks like. Need help with doing your inner work? Download my Know Your Why Guide.
Thinking through Changes at Home
You know why you want a change and have an idea of ultimately what you want it to look after some self-reflection. It’s really helpful to think through how you’ll make that change happen. Take the time to understand the impact of this change on your family. (We’ll cover your work team below.)
More flexibility can impact your family. When I interviewed more than 110 working moms, they shared that more time with family was the chief benefit of having more work-life balance. There can be great opportunities to spend more time with your kids. That might mean that you need less babysitter time or time with grandma. You might get to be more engaged with an initiative at school or after-school activity.
If you are reducing your hours and potentially dealing with a drop in income (please note that this is not always the case), you might need to scale back on kids’ activities. This is likely something you want to talk to your kids about. I have a whole chapter on the financial side of things when you want to reduce hours, so this is a big topic to cover, including a conversation with your significant other.
There might be implications to your current childcare solution. Your day care might not allow you to only have your child there 4 days a week since you plan to work from home on Fridays and you’re hiring someone to help you at home for half of the day. That might mean you need a new day care option.
Set up time to speak with your significant other about the changes you want to make, especially the financial ones. Talk about areas that you might need help with. See how you divide up your current household and childcare duties and see if you might need to make changes.
Requesting more Flexibility at Work
Your work team dynamic will likely change in some way if you’re asking for more flexibility. If you’re trying to create a job share with a fellow mom, how will you coordinate together and with the rest of the team? How does communication need to work if you’re asking to work from home or reduce your hours? Work out those details before you make the request. And many of the moms I interviewed talked about creating a proposal. I share two versions of a proposal template that you might find helpful.
At some point, you’ll have to negotiate for more flexibility at work. You want to be strategic with how you speak to your manager. See how you can create win-win, so that both you and your team/employer benefit from your flexibility. Highlight your strengths as an employee and focus on what you continue to do, even with more flexibility. Be able to speak to accomplishments and what you bring to the table. You want to show you’ve been a big contributor over time and that will continue, even with more flexibility in your work day.
Once You Get Started
It’s rarely perfect right out of the gate. Give yourself some space to get into your groove. If you see something that really isn’t working for you early on, make some small changes to help. Try not to revamp anything early on unless it’s literally becoming a roadblock. That said, don’t feel like you must stick with a solution when it’s simply not working.
What about Leaving the Workforce Temporarily?
Maybe you’re reading this and thinking you’ll take off a year or two and then you’ll head back into the work force. The thing is that it might not be that easy. There is almost always an opportunity cost, whether financial or slower rate of progression in your career, and then there are the challenges of getting back in to the workforce. It’s even more the case if you’re in a highly specialized or competitive field, so keep that in mind.
What are you going to start working on to make the change to a more flexible work arrangement? If you’ve already made the shift, what helped you make this change? What advice would you share with others wanting to make a change?
Suzanne’s latest book, The Mompowerment Guide to Work-Life Balance is now available! Buy it on Amazon HERE.